Waitangi Claim


Summary of WAI 2336 Report - 18 October 2012


1. The Waitangi Tribunal has found that the Trust’s claim is well founded, that the Crown has breached the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, and that kōhanga reo have suffered severe prejudice as a result of the Crown’s actions and omissions.


 2. The Tribunal stated that without kōhanga reo, te reo me ngā tikanga Māori would not survive – and that the two are inextricably linked.  


3. Importantly, the Tribunal found that:

The principles of equity and options under the Treaty of Waitangi mean that whanau have the right to choose kōhanga reo as the cultural path to preserve and promote te reo me nga tikanga Maori. The Crown must fund kohanga reo equitably with the Western model of teacher-led ECE. 

The Crown must reprioritise spending on te reo Maori and provide urgent funding for property maintenance and upgrades, to avoid exposing 3,000 mokopuna to the possibility of losing their kōhanga reo buildings.

The Crown has an obligation to develop policies that actively support whānau choice and recognise the unique role of kōhanga reo.  This includes ensuring that whanau know about the benefits of kōhanga reo for ensuring mokopuna are fluent in te reo maori.  The Crown’s failure to do so has undermined whanau choice and led to a dramatic decline in the proportion of Maori participating in kōhanga reo.

The Crown cannot put in place regulations that are one-size-fits-all, and kōhanga reo should not be assessed by ERO in a way that undermines the kaupapa.

The Crown needs to adequately fund the Trust, whose funding has remained the same for 17 years, which “contrasts poorly with the approach taken for other ECE service funding, most of which is adjusted in line with Treasury’s inflation forecasts.” The Tribunal found that “the Trust is the largest, most experienced Maori institution... and it has been endorsed by whanau, hapu and iwi.”


4. The Tribunal emphasised that the Crown must share responsibility and control with kōhanga reo, and work with kōhanga whānau and the Trust to:

Develop a policy framework that will respect the kaupapa and allow kōhanga reo to flourish;

Create policy and targets for increasing participation in kōhanga reo and for reducing waiting lists;

Identify measures for maintaining and improving quality in kōhanga reo;

Develop a supportive funding regime both for kōhanga reo and the Trust; and

Develop a more appropriate regulatory and licensing framework, specific to kōhanga reo.


5. The Tribunal also recommended that:

The Crown apologises for the failure of its ECE policies to sufficiently provide for kōhanga reo, and pay the reasonable legal expenses of the Trust bringing the claim; and

Specific research is undertaken on the effects and impacts of the kōhanga model.


6. From 22 October 2012 until 2 November 2012, the Trust will be travelling around the country to present the Tribunal’s report to kōhanga reo whānau, and to consult with them on the future of kōhanga reo in light of these findings and recommendations.


7. The report has acknowledged the pouritanga of our grievance, and our focus now must be on implementing the Tribunal’s recommendations, in negotiation with the Crown.

Nā reira e tātou mā, ki ngā whakaaro rangatira, ki ngā tautoko rangatira mai, me hoe tahi tātou ko ngā mokopuna te pūtake, ko te reo te huarahi.

Nau mai haere ake rā tātou ki te whiriwhiri i te ripoata nei.


Te Poari Matua mō ngā Kōhanga reo


Download Full Report HERE



Te Kōhanga Reo file urgent claim with Waitangi Tribunal

The Trust Board's claim sets out breaches by the Crown including discriminating against Kōhanga reo if they did not operate the same as early childhood education centres. This discriminates against Kaumatua, Kuia, whānau, extended whānau and the kaupapa and essence of the different Māori approach to whānau-based development.